Question: "Which features overcomplicate Swift? What should be removed?"

Written by: Reinder de Vries, March 8 2015, in App Development

I really can’t think of anything! This is a tough question…

See, Objective-C first had quirky memory management. It was overly expressive, method names were just too long. Blocks sort-of worked, but they weren’t real closures. There wasn’t a lot of safety built in, and I don’t regard it as a productive, fun to work with, language. Regardless, it got the job done.

Then, Swift came along.

Here’s what I like about Swift:

  • Optionals. Tricky at first, I thought: can’t we just leave all the !’s and ?’s and just get back to check if a variable is nil? Then, I realized optionals make your code stronger, by checking at compile-time whether a variable is not empty and usable.
  • Closures. Great for throwing in code that’s not part of your code structure.
  • Generics. Sort-of closures turned inside-out, writing code that has a specific goal or intent regardless of what types you put in.
  • Optional chaining. How many times did I write numerous if-statements to dig into a JSON structure to find out whether a variable existed? Not anymore!

Then, Swift is expressive and concise, which makes it easier to pick up for beginner developers. The language grows with you as you learn, and has plenty of fun stuff for advanced developers. And code doesn’t need to be rewritten from ObjC to Swift, thanks to the bridging headers, any library out there is usable in a Swift project.

One point of critique? Well, the compiler tends to get slow on bigger projects, especially when you do compiler-heavy stuff like type inference. And, random Xcode crashes occur from time to time. But on Swift itself? Nope.

I think Swift was made to alleviate the overcomplication of Objective-C, and to give app developers a language that’s not invented in 1983.

Reinder de Vries

Reinder de Vries is a professional iOS developer. He teaches app developers how to build their own apps at LearnAppMaking.com. Since 2009 he has developed a few dozen apps for iOS, worked for global brands and lead development at several startups. When he’s not coding, he enjoys strong espresso and traveling.

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